Personnel: Curtis Peagler (alto saxophone, tenor saxophone); Mike Kelly (trombone); William Brown (piano); Roy McCurdy (drums).
Recording information: Nj (09/08/1959).
In a perfect world, Curtis Peagler's Modern Jazz Disciples would have had a longer run and built a much larger catalog. But regrettably, the Cincinnati quintet is only a small footnote in the history of hard bop and gave listeners only two albums. The first was this self-titled LP, which was recorded for Prestige's New Jazz subsidiary in 1959. The Modern Jazz Disciples shows the late Peagler, who turned 29 that year, to be a hard-swinging alto saxman in the Charlie Parker/Sonny Stitt/Cannonball Adderley/Phil Woods vein -- his hot-blooded solos on tracks like "A Little Taste," "Slippin' and Slidin'," and the standard "After You've Gone" make this record well worth the price of admission. Quite often, "After You've Gone" has been heard in swing and classic jazz settings, but the Disciples' version is pure bop. And even though Peagler was the Disciples' leader, he isn't the only one who makes this album worthwhile. The Modern Jazz Disciples were team players, and it is impossible to miss the strong rapport that Peagler enjoys with pianist William Brown, bassist Lee Tucker, drummer Ron McCurdy, and normaphone/euphonium player William "Hicky" Kelley. No one could accuse the Disciples of having a typical, run-of-the-mill front line -- many people have never even heard of the normaphone, a rare type of valve trombone that is shaped like an alto sax. But it's an instrument that always works well for Kelley, who fares equally well when he switches to the euphonium on Charlie Parker's "Perhaps." This is, without question, a very promising debut -- it's too bad that the Disciples didn't have a longer run. ~ Alex Henderson